HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON! My heart is full of gratitude for lives saved, for how the conversation within the firearms community on mental health and suicide prevention is changing in a beautiful way, and for all of those who are doing thier part to lift up the Hold My Guns. Freedom, safety, and compassion are at the center of our mission, and it brings me great joy to encourage others with these values – I know you feel the same way!
Below is some good news I’ve been looking forward to sharing with you:
- SilencerCo’s nine-minute film “The Advocate” featuring two HMG Board members. It shares an inside look at thriving with OCD and panic disorder.
- Suicide Prevention - A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League Members Girl’s Night Out!
- Community engagement - NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program website theresilientveteran.org is live!
- HMG Volunteers Sign Up & Slack Channel
SilencerCo’s American Gun Series: The Advocate
This. Video. Is. Powerful. (Do you have that family member coming for the holidays? Show them this. Really. Say these words with me: The Firearms Community is a Protective Factor. Ah-hem.
The Hold My Guns® team is incredibly proud of its Board members for their willingness to give viewers an intimate look at thriving with mental illness as part of SilencerCo’s American Gun Series.
Genevieve Jones, President, and her father, Paul Jones, Treasurer, shared how range time together and competitive shooting helped to bring healing in the midst of Genevieve’s being diagnosed with severe OCD and panic disorder. They hope that the video would bring encouragement to fellow gun owners who are facing similar diagnoses.
“Working with the SilencerCo team was an absolute honor. They treated me and my story with such respect,” said Genevieve. ”Mental illness is not an easy topic to talk about, especially when in combination with Second Amendment rights. SilencerCo understands the importance of bridging that gap, and together we worked to produce something that I think is truly beautiful. I am impressed with the entire ‘American Gun’ series so far and impressed with SilencerCo for wanting to showcase gun owners in all walks of life. Doing this promotes community and hopefully will encourage people outside of the 2A community to shoot!”
The nine-minute documentary entitled American Gun: The Advocate features the father-daughter pair, who are both multi-credentialed firearms instructors, shooting together at the range. It also features Genevieve enjoying other grounding hobbies such as cycling and astronomy. Felix, an attentive German Shepherd, is shown working with Genevieve as her service dog. The video also highlights Hold My Guns®.
“With the support of my employer, SilencerCo, I developed the American Gun project to provide an intimate look at the foundation of American freedom focusing on the right to bear arms and the vast diversity that exists among those who support the Second Amendment,” said Jace LeRoy, Photographer and Media Director at SilencerCo. “My goal is to offer truthful depictions of these individuals as opposed to the biased and often politically motivated representation seen throughout the media and social platforms.”
We are grateful for SilencerCo’s leadership to highlight stories of resilience and hope within the firearms community and encourage readers to leave a positive comment on the YouTube video and share the video with others. (Thank you!)
A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League: Girls' Night Out
Topic: Valuing Life - A Proactive Approach to Suicide Prevention
“Gun owners need to participate in the conversation about suicide prevention. Sarah armed our community with knowledge to identify and help people before they reach a crisis status. There is a responsible and compassionate way to address suicide prevention within the gun community. Thank you Sarah for leading on this important issue.” - Robyn Sandoval, Executive Director, A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League
On Veterans Day, I spent the evening with over 150 members of A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League for our Virtual Girls' Night Out. I am a new member of the Elizabethtown, PA, chapter, and it meant so much to me that I was invited to share about such a tender topic with ladies from my firearms community all over the United States.
A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League is a ladies-only organization established by women shooters for women pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooters. The league is designed to take beginners to whatever skill level they wish to achieve and provide experienced shooters with more opportunities. Having a lifestyle of personal responsibility for all areas of life, including firearms ownership, is underscored with member’s journal that not only contains firearms-related drills and best practices, but also places to reflect on and document areas of personal growth.
During the Girls' Night Out, we laughed and cried together as we talked about the sorrows and joys of life. I shared about having a personal safety plan can be an anchor when life’s storms unexpectedly hit. Decisions, including a plan for securing lethal means, are best made before crisis hits. Taking a proactive approach helps facilitate a quicker response, and also gives the individual a sense of having control vs. being along for the ride.
Download your copy of the safety plan here: https://linktr.ee/HoldMyGunsOrg
Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program Website Launch: TheResilientVeteran.org
For the past year, I have volunteered on the Advisory Group for the Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program (NWPAVSPP). My father is a USMC Veteran who served in Vietnam, and several of my family members have served in the armed forces during wartime and peacetime.
According to the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, over 70% of Veteran suicide deaths in 2019 were due to a self-inflicted firearm injury. To reduce firearm-related suicide deaths, it is vital that we reach firearm owners within the Veteran community.
Veterans make up a large population of our firearms community, and we are blessed to have so many fine men and women in our circles. When my friend Richard Hamp, SGM (Ret), who serves as Special Assistant to the Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, asked me to consider being part of this Group, I said yes without hestitation.
Bill Brassard Jr., Senior Director of Communications at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) also serves on the Advisory Group, and it is a privilege to humbly work alongside of him. He understands the nuances of our community from the perspective of gun owners and retailers, has a compassionate heart, and advocates for solutions that bolster the preservation of rights. I am grateful for his willingness to represent our firearms community and be part of this important conversation.
NWPAVSPP was formed to support 15 counties in NW Pennsylvania where Veteran suicide is particular high. .The goal is not simply to reduce those numbers by connecting Veterans to helpful resources, but also to find ways to increase resiliency and connectedness within the community through collaborative efforts. Having a community who cares makes all of us want to wake up in the morning!
Part of my role in the Advisory Group is help enhance connection for Veterans within our Pennsylvania firearms community, as well as help create pathways for education on Veteran suicide awareness amongst retailers, range safety officers, and instructors who are participating in the program.
Hold My Guns is a volunteer community partner of the program in that our goal is to help connect Veterans with firearms storage during times of crisis or personal need (such as during the transisition to moving to a new home or while on vacation). We are honored to support our beloved Veterans in this way!
If you know of a retailer in NW Pennsylvania that would make a good fit for a storage partner, will you send them my way? The need is great.
As we grow, we could use some help! We are in need of boots on the ground to share the HMG mission with potential storage partners, someone who is gifted in marketing and page layout to help upgrade our brochures, and content creators for our website and social media to name a few. If you’re interested in volunteering with Hold My Guns, SIGN UP HERE I will send you an invitation to our new Slack channel.
Bonus: Holding Space
Back in my days as a doula and birth educator, one of my mentors shared with me some wisdom that has stuck with me and still encourages me today. Sometimes in that work, I would have a close-up view of broken relationships, sad pregnancy outcomes, and, of course, decisions made by my clients that I wouldn’t have made myself.
My mentor said, “Remember to say to yourself, ‘This is happening NEXT to me, not TO me.” That allowed me to serve with compassion yet still have healthy boundaries. For my own mental health, it was important to know where I ended and where my client began.
She also shared with me a concept that I love – “Holding Space”. This essentially means that you promote the autonomy of others. It can be harder to find articles on this concept outside of the caregiver realm, but this one from 2015 is one that I’ve kept in my bookmarks like a faithful friend over the years. (Yes, it’s a little on the touchy-feely side!) I found myself reading it again recently, and it felt like a hug. I hope that it gives you a hug as well as you work in the trenches. “What It Means to “Hold Space” for People, Plus Eight Tips on How to Do It Well” by Heather Plett .
What tips do you have for helping others while maintaining healthy personal boundaries? Please email me and let me know so that I can share your thoughts with others.
Sarah Joy Albrecht